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Sharrie Williams, heir to the Maybelline legacy, is Tom Lyle Williams's grandniece and Evelyn Boecher Williams's granddaughter. Growing up in their homes, and steward of the vast Maybelline archives, Williams tells the story of the birth of the Maybelline empire and dishes intimate and never-before-told details about the fascinating family dynasty behind it.

Sharrie Williams Blog Posts

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Voices from West Africa

Check out this amazing music from West Africa, produced and recorded by my friend, Paul Chandler, director of Studio Mali  and Instruments 4 Africa. I chose this song in particular because it speaks of the importance of strong determination and finding your voice.  It also applauds an honest hard day's work and how your daily efforts build momentum to move you forward in life.
Tom Lyle Williams lived this and built the Maybelline Company on the foundation of honest hard work. 

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

For Mom

The Maybelline Story is dedicated to you, Mom.  In memory of my Mother, Pauline Elna MacDonald Williams, January 17, 1924 to September 22, 2010. 

Monday, November 8, 2010

Santa Barbara Book Signing.

Here I am at the Santa Barbara Barnes and Noble for my second book signing.  They sold out of books in two hours and the manager said it was the most successful book signing they'd ever had. 

My cousin, Charles Allen Williams, aka, Chuck  (he's in the book), arranged for me to do a half hour talk radio show with him the day before the book signing on a local Santa Barbara station owned by the Santa Barbara News Press called KZSB-AM,  hosted by Baron Ron Herron. The News Press also wrote a beautiful review of the Maybelline Story in their Sunday paper the week before the signing. 

Chuck also gave me a reception at his favorite restaurant in Montecito called Cafe Del Sol and it was sky's the limit for 16 invited guests. My heart almost burst with pride when Chuck toasted the launching of my book and wished me great success, as several members of the Maybelline family lifted their glasses in agreement. 

I leave for Chicago Nov 9th to tape two TV shows and lunch with Jenniffer Weigel, author of I'm Spiritual Dammit and Stay Tuned, before heading home Nov 10th.  I will post the Santa Barbara News Press article and radio show as soon as possible for you all to enjoy. 

Let's make Chuck's wish come true and send The Maybelline Story to the Moon. Buy it now and help support the little kids in Mali, Africa so they have a chance to find their voice and express their talent through the arts.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Daddy's Clenet back in business.

Here I am in front of my dad's 1977 Clenet  (thirteenth edition of series 1).  It has been in storage for over 4 years since his death in 2006.  My brother Preston, and my sisters Donna and Billee and I, are getting it back on the road for my promotional tour.  I hope my darling dad is happy today, knowing his favorite car will once again be showing off the glamour that was so much a part of The Maybelline Story and the Spirited Family Dynasty Behind It.  See you soon!  Oh, and don't forget to read the book and experience Bill  (my dad) to the fullest.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

gay or bi-sexual?

In the book you “out” Tom Lyle as gay, or bi-sexual… How’s that going over with your family? And, why wasn’t his sexual orientation known at the time—it must have been difficult to live a double life so to speak?
Sharrie: Well, we loved him so much and he didn’t flaunt his sexuality, so no we never witnessed any homosexual behavior.  He was simply handsome and glamorous and we were crazy about him and didn‘t think twice about anything.  His father was the original one who suggested he move to California, and he loved Hollywood anyway….since he could be himself and live with his partner without scrutiny. He must have been bi-sexual because he did marry and did father a son. He also loved actress Alice Faye for many years…and Evelyn, too.  As far as it being difficult for him, I would imagine, there was “The Hays Codes” that literally encouraged society to hold homosexuals responsible for destroying good morals.”

Monday, November 1, 2010

Grandiose Expectations

WOUNDED by being RICH & FAMOUS: The lifestyle that surrounded you was quite glamorous; and of course there was the privilege of growing up in wealth and surrounded by luxury. But was there a downside? Did you get to “have” and “be” “normal” as a child? and you do say you were wounded by the wealth and the family values that surrounded being a “Maybelline” family member.. what were the wounds, and how did you overcome them?
Sharrie:  I think it was a painful distraction to watch my Grandmother and my parents in a power struggle over certain family values.  I was torn between my Grandmother's grandiose expectations and our mother's family values, which were more down earth.  The striving to be “normal” and not keep secrets was what we struggled with.  I was expected, by my Grandmother Evelyn, to look and represent Maybelline and perfection, at least that‘s how I interpreted it.  Unfortunately, when I was a child I had a weight problem so she really worked on me in particular, which created serious eating disorders and lead to all kinds of  low self worth and health problems, prescription drug use, etc.  As far as luxury, we were very comfortable but not the rich and famous you may be thinking of.  My uncle believed in moderation and discretion.  That was his philosophy.  For our branch of the family, once the Maybelline Company sold, it was a spending frenzy!  My Dad was attacked by gold diggers in Newport Beach and that’s when our little branch of the family began to crumble.  You have to read the book for those details.  These were my wounds and I overcame them by getting into recovery……..the 12 Steps.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Reaching out to kids in Sub-Sarahan Africa

There is nothing better than reaching out and giving a child in need a hand up.  It is true, by serving others, we experience pure joy...there is nothing that can compare.

Instruments 4 Africa (501c-3) is a small, grassroots organization....100% volunteer managed by a group of dedicated Americans living and working in Bamako,Mali, West Africa.  They have been building relationships based on trust in the local Malian community since 2003.  Because of this, Instruments 4 Africa is able to work directly with underprivileged kids and their families.

100% of the donations received by Instruments 4 Africa go to serve the kids in the program, paying for school tuition, malaria tests and treatment medication and training in the traditional arts by Malian master teachers.  The traditional culture of Mali is a vibrant living thing that brings joy and connection to a society that from the "outside looking in" seems extremely impoverished.  It is important to pass on these traditions to the children, to keep hope alive.

Just like the Instruments 4 Africa kids, The Maybelline Story is filled with hope and the will to keep going to reach the highest dream.  To reach out to kids in Mali, please join the cause on facebook or click here to donate ! You make a difference...Thank YOU!

One of the first Maybelline posters

One of the first Maybelline posters
This sounds more like a movie than a real life story, but I guess all the best stories are based on truth. I knew about Mabel and her coal dust and petroleum jelly mix that was the inspiration for mascara. That is where the name Maybelline came from but for all the family drama that ensued well that is now in a book that looks like a must read to me.
Book Synopsis:
In1915, when a kitchen stove fire singed his sister Mabel’s lashes and brows, Tom Lyle Williams watched in fascination as she performed what she called ‘a secret of the harem’—mixing petroleum jelly with coal dust and ash from a burnt cork and applying it to her lashes and brows. Mabel’s simple beauty trick ignited Tom Lyle’s imagination and he started what would become a billion-dollar business, one that remains a viable American icon after nearly a century. He named it Maybelline in her honor. Throughout the twentieth century, the Maybelline company inflated, collapsed, endured, and thrived in tandem with the nation’s upheavals—as did the family that nurtured it.
Tom Lyle Williams—to avoid unwanted scrutiny of his private life—cloistered himself behind the gates of his Rudolph Valentino Villa and ran his empire from the shadows. Now, after nearly a century of silence, this true story celebrates the life of an American entrepreneur, a man forced to remain behind a mask—using his sister-in-law Evelyn Boecher—to be his front.
Stories of the-great-man-and-how-he-did-it serve as a traditional mainstay of biographies, but with the strong women’s book-buying market, a resurgence of interest in memoirs that focus on relationships more than a single man and his accomplishments are more likely to be discussed in women’s book groups. The Maybelline Story combines the best of both approaches: a man whose vision rocketed him to success along with the woman held in his orbit.
Tom Lyle and his siblings
Tom Lyle and his siblings
(this is wrong, the picture is of Evelyn, her son Bill, Sharrie and Tom Lyle)
In the way that Rhett Butler ignored the criticism of his peers to carve his own destiny, Tom Lyle Williams shares similar grit and daring. But Rhett without Scarlet wouldn’t be much of a story. Evelyn Williams provides the energy of an antagonist. Like Scarlet, we sometimes hate her and want to shake her, but sometimes, we must admit that we hold a grudging respect; we get a kick out of her and even occasionally, love her for her guts and tenacity, and certainly because she carved out a life for herself and insisted on having a voice, even if she was a fly in the ointment for others.
The Maybelline story provides other kinds of classic literary satisfaction. We are especially fascinated to slip vicariously into the lives of the rich and privileged yet cheer for the underdog who overcomes obstacles to astound doubters with his success. We are enthralled with the historical sweep of events whose repercussions live on to the present, all elements of The Maybelline Story—which reads like a juicy novel, but is in fact a family memoir, distilled from nine hundred pages of family accounts from the 1920’s to present.
An engrossing and captivating saga that spans four generations and reveals the humanity, the glamour, and the seedy underside of a family intoxicated by the quest for power, wealth, and physical perfection. It is a fascinating and inspiring tale of ambition, luck, greed, secrecy—and surprisingly, above all, love and forgiveness, a tale both epic and intimate, alive with the clash, the hustle, the music, and dance of American enterprise.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Benjamin Franklin, Patriots in the Maybelline family.

Excerpt from a letter written by Tom Lyle Williams' partner, Emery Shaver, to Tom Lyle Jr. in 1932 discussing the Williams family's roots in American history.

Dear Tom Jr,

Ann Franklin Harris was the half sister of
Benjamin Franklin, the celebrated patriot and philosopher, and your great grandmother, many times over.

[Ann Franklin’s
father Josiah Franklin, Born December twenty third, sixteen fifty-seven, in Ecton, North England, married twice. First to Ann Child, born sixteen fifty-two, who had seven children, the fifth, Ann, your direct descendant.  When Ann (Child,) Franklin died in childbirth on July forth sixteen eighty-nine, in Boston  Mass.  Josiah married a second time to Abiah Foulger on November twenty fifth,  Sixteen eighty-nine, and produced ten more children, seventeen in all and among  them the great Benjamin Franklin.  If you will pick up Benjamin Franklin’s autobiography, you will be able to red part of your own ancestry. Since his father was your many times great grandfather, and in his story of his life, Benjamin tells all about it.  I hope all this does not confuse you, but I had to get off the main story of your descent to mention how you are descended from the Franklin line, for I know you will be interested.]
Deacon Jonathan Williams Jr. was a patriot of the “First Water” during our unpleasantness with Great Britain, the Revolutionary War. I know for certain he presided over the meeting held in Faneuil Hall directly after the Boston Massacre, to protest against that slaughter, and he headed the famous “Boston Tea Party,” when that group of men disguised themselves as Indians and went down to the wharves and threw the tea into the Harbor!  This should give you a new interest in history.

Deacon Jonathan Williams Jr. and his wife Grace (Franklin Harris) Williams, had many children but we have complete records of only two, Nancy and another Jonathan!  Jonathan Jr. and Grace (Franklin Harris) daughter Nancy married Samuel Bradford, the Marshall of Massachusetts, and your ancestor, her brother Jonathan 111, became the well-known Col. Jonathan Williams of the War of 1812. 

As a youth Jonathan 111, visited his grand-uncle Benjamin Franklin in
England and through him secured a berth on several cruses to the West Indies.  Later, during the Revolutionary War, he was entrusted with several important commissions by Benjamin and was finally appointed Commercial Agent for the Colonies in Nantes, France, at the time that Franklin was Ambassador to France.  Later, through enemies of Franklin, Namely John Adams and Henry Lee, he was accused of dishonesty in an attempt to discredit Franklin, but he cleared himself, although it caused him the embarrassment of having to go into bankruptcy. 
Political enemies of Franklin rejoiced when they succeeded in humiliating him and his grand-nephew, however, it did them no good as Jonathan Williams 111 became famous as first Major, then Major General and finally Colonel Williams, organizer and first superintendent of West Point Military Academy.  I have a Photostat of an engraving made from his portrait that I shall also give you.  

While Jonathan 111, was Commercial Agent at Nantes, he fell in
love with Marianne Alexander, the daughter of William and Christian (Aitchison) Alexander, of Scotland, of noble family and very rich (The Sheriff of Edinburgh.) A It seems William Alexander did quite a bit of select spying for Benjamin and was one of his closest friends, so you may be sure that it proved a brilliant match when Franklin’s grand nephew and Alexander’s daughter were married at the home of the Dutch Ambassador in Paris, and Franklin was present at the ceremony of course. 

Love, Uncle Dutch  

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Maybelline Co.'s 11th hour

    Maybelline Co and it's employee's, 1934

Excerpted from a letter from Alan A. Ragland.  Alan also wrote the preface for The Maybelline Story and the Spirited Family Dynasty Behind It. Copyrighted 2010, Bettie Youngs Books.

The Maybelline Company was acquired by Plough, Inc. effective 2/28/68.  Negotiations were currently going on with American Cyanamid, Revlon, and Kimberly Clark.  Rags Ragland, The Marketing genius Tom Lyle hired in in 1933, had owned Plough stock and was the unique influence in recommending Plough as a suitor to the Maybelline Co.  Ragland's reasoning was that he knew that Plough was in a solid enough position to buy the Maybelline and also due to the leverage factor, he knew that Plough would be a preferred candidate.  Plough was in a far superior leveraged condition in that the company had much fewer shares outstanding.

During the 11th hour of negotiations, Ragland suggested to Tom Lyle's son Tom Jr., that Maybelline include Plough in the bidding:  Tom's initial reaction was "Rags, they do not have the money"... Ragland's response was, "Yes, they do Tom. I know their circumstances, as I have been a stockholder for years and know they are cash heavy."  Tom called Abe Plough and the next day

Plough was quickly and shrewdly chosen as the suitor:  They offered a minimum of  $100M  and there was a period of grace, whereupon the stock would float, then a specific day, which was 2/28/68 that the Plough stock price would be "pegged" for the official exchange.  On 2/28/68 the price of Plough had rallied so dramatically that the effectual buyout of the Maybelline company was now $132.3M!  Yes, it was leverage that caused this!  Demand plus fewer shares caused a stock breakout, which is a scenario seen on Wall Street each day.

In 1973 Schering, the 2nd largest pharmaceutical company in the world and Plough merged.  Each of the stockholder's received 1.32 shares of Schering for every share of of Plough that they had owned.

Abe Plough and Lanny Smith flew up with their executive staff in their private jet from Memphis to talk to Maybelline in Chicago ... post haste!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Maybelline, pioneer in it's field.


Tom Lyle Williams, my great uncle,  propounded this universally appealing theme in mass media:  movie magazines, radio, and even the comics section of newspapers during the  1920's, 30's, and 40's.  But it wasn't until the advent of television in the 50's that the single most important selling tool was perfected.  Through Television, Tom Lyle was able to show, as well as tell and sell, exactly what the customers  could do. 

The  consumer could now observe the fine
performance of Maybelline eye beauty aids and learn just how easy it was to apply them through the technology of special effects.  With this new medium,  Maybelline was the first cosmetic company to offer real application and demonstration scenes through the magic of  instant beauty transformation magnificently communicated through  “before and after" sequences."

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

3rd, Secret of the Harem!

When Nana was a young girl, in 1915, she like most young ladies of her time, read a movie magazine called Photoplay, that revealed Secrets of the Harem, so to speak.  The secrets were homemade beauty tricks passed on from one generation to the next and were built upon as the ages unfolded. Nana and her sisters,Verona and Bunny learned the tricks, to make themselves as glamorous and alluring as the silent screen stars.

I was indoctrinated into the Harem when at 5 years old, when Nana  made my eyes up and paraded me around my great uncle Tom Lyle's living room for applause.  From that time on, Nana became my mentor and I her little protege. 

One of her delicious little secrets for depuffing your eyes "after a late night romp with Valentino" she'd wink, was TEA BAGS

Yes, just plain old black tea bags.  But there was more.  First you place two tea bags in a half cup of boiling water for about 30 seconds, just to get the tea moving.  Next, you  gently squeeze out the excess water and place them on a small plate.  Now stick them in the freezer until they are ice cold.  Lay down for half hour if possible but at least 15 minutes and meditate on how gorgeous you are going to look with your Maybelline eyes tonight.  Let me know what you think, I bet you will be begging for more of Nana's fabulous Secrets of the Harem. 

Monday, October 18, 2010

Fun Summer Read

Take a glance at the fun topics I've written about in "The Maybelline Story and the Spirited Family Dynasty Behind It."  Sound like a fun, fast-paced Summer read?  I think so.  Buy it today from Amazon.  Soon you may purchase an autographed copy with a fabulous black and white glossy picture of Tom Lyle and Evelyn infront of his new 1938 Packard convertible.  Happy reading!


Maybelline, Cosmetics,  Great Lash Mascara, beauty, Chicago, Hollywood, Morganfield KY, Tom Lyle Williams, L’Oreal, Great Depression, Bix Beiderbecke, Marketing Strategist, History, Family Dynasty’s, Family History, Lake Hamilton KY, Hot Springs Arkansas, Dorothy Lamour, Nickelodeon, Mary Pickford, Sears Roebuck and Co, Popular Mechanics Magazine, The Mayflower Families, Mercy Hospital, Mail Order Catalogue’s, The Household Guest, Weeghman Park, Balaban & Katz Theatre, Charlie Chaplin, The Little Tramp, World War 1, Cecil B. DeMille, The Lusitania, Lillian Gish, Birth of a Nation, Photoplay magazine, Vaseline, Victorian Era, Marshall Fields and Co., Park-Davis, Mascaro, Police Gazette, Saturday Evening Post, Gibson Girl, Coco Chanel, Powder, Rouge, Wall Street Journal, Mail Order, Lost Generation, Lord & Taylor, The Jazz Age, Louis Armstrong, Al Capone, Flappers, Chicago Institute of Music, Rudolph Valentino, Boston Opera Company, Jazz-Bo, Erte’, Art Nouveau, Harry Houdini, Miss America Pageant, Lake Zurich, Scabs, Cleveland, Pinkerton Agents, Mildred Davis, Jack Dempsey, Gene Tunney, Cubs Park, Wrigley Field, Mayo Clinic, Charlie Chase, Viola Dana, Lefty Flynn, Beverly Hills Hotel, The Polo Lounge, Tom Mix, Miss Mixit, Will Rogers, Clara Bow, Mildred Davis, Gloria Swanson, Malibu Colony, Wings the film, The Jazz Singer, Argentina, gangsters, St Valentine’s Day Massacre, Herbert Hoover, Academy of Motion Picture Arts, Douglas Fairbanks, Roosevelt Hotel, The Circus (film), Marion Davies, Roaring Twenties, Art Deco, Ponds Cold Cream, Helena Rubenstein, Duke University, Actress Natalie Moorhead, Actress Norma Shearer, Eastman-Kodak Camera, Tarzan of the Apes, Amos and Andy, “The Little Engine That Could,”  Jimmy Shield, William “Bill” Haines, MGM Studios, Baby Face Nelson, John Dillinger, Pretty Boy Floyd, Clyde Barrow, Bonnie Parker, The New Deal, The San Francisco Golden Gate Bridge, Adolf Hitler, Tower Hill Military School, Dundee Illinois, Jean Harlow, Bombshell, National Recovery Act, FDR, The Maybelline Hour, WFNT, Penthouse Serenade, Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval, Dust Bowl, Biograph Theatre, Biograph Studio, Lady In Red, Joan Crawford, Technicolor Film, 1934 Packard Automobile, The 1934 Worlds Fair, Jake the Barber, William Randolph Hearst, Marion Davies, Vogue Magazine, Ladies Home Journal, Max Factor, Charles Revlon, Merle Norman Cosmetics, Production Code Administration, (PCA), Hays Code, Cary Grant, Randolph Scott, California, Marlene Dietrich actress, Lilly Dache’, Carmen Miranda, Laguna Beach, The Great Ziegfeld, Deanna Durban actress, Judy Garland, Biltmore Hotel,  Musso and Franks restaurant, Hedy Lamaar actress, Carole Lombard actress, True Confession Magazine, World War 11, Eleanor Fisher actress, Santa Anita Racetrack, Clark Gable, Spencer Tracy, Bing Crosby, Seabiscuit, Benny Goodman band leader, Alice Faye actress, Alexander’s Ragtime Band, Fox Studio, The Fleishmann Hour, Times Square, Merle Oberon actress, Glenn Miller bandleader, The Wizard of Oz, Gone With The Wind, King Kong, Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, Eleanor Powell actress, Tommy Dorsey, Jimmy Dorsey bandleader, Tommy Dorsey bandleader, Frank Sinatra, Winston Churchhill, Tony Martin, Daryl Zanuck, Betty Grable, Phil Harris, Shirley Temple, Jane Withers, Busby Berkeley, Gene Krupa drummer, Cedric Gibbons, Douglas Aircraft, Louie B. Mayer, Mickey Rooney, Jeanette MacDonald, Glamour magazine, Ronald Reagan, Combat Camera, Bette Davis, Hollywood USO, Rita Hayworth , Mocambo restaurant, Xavier Cugat, Desi Arnaz, Greer Garson actress, Edgar Cayce, Jitterbugging, The Palladium, Romanoff’s restaurant, Humphrey Bogart, Lana Turner, The Coast Guard, Elyse Knox pinup girl, Linda Darnell, Maria Montez Susan Hayward, Virginia Mayo, Barbara Stanwyck, Fort Riley, Fort Ord, Philippines, General Douglas MacAuthur, Lois Collier actress, Ava Gardner, The American Dream, Norma Christopher, 1947 Tournament of Roses, Carlyle Blackwell Jr. Photography Studio, Hess Photography, Monoplies, McCarthyism, Bel Air Fire, Baldwin Hills Flood, Tungsten, Adlai Stevenson, President Eisenhower, Walkie Talkie dolls, Dorian Gray, Chinatown in LA, Olvera St in LA, Frederick’s of Hollywood, Rosie the Riveter, James Dean, Bill Haley and the Comets, Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry Maybellene the song, Grace Kelly, Prince Rainier 111 of Monaco, Hanna-Barbera Productions, Ben Hur, Camarillo State Mental Hospital, Manic-Depressive disorder, F.W.Woolworth, Patricia Stevens Modeling School, Dream Girl, The Gong Show, The Dating Game, Plough Inc, Schering-Plough,  Martin Luther King Jr, Robert Kennedy, The Vietnam War, Neil Armstrong, Balboa Bay Club Newport Beach CA, Conway Twitty, Arson Fire In Hot Springs AK.

Saturday, October 16, 2010


Book That Asks, Maybe She’s Born With It?

There are certain stories, so dramatic, so sordid, that they seem positively destined for television—well, Lifetime television, at least. A new, thoroughly engrossing tome, The Maybelline Story and the Spirited Family Dynasty Behind It (Bettie Youngs Books, 2010), fits the bill, with insight into all the brand’s dirty little details. And author Sharrie Williams certainly would know: As heir to the drugstore makeup brand’s massive dynasty, Williams is the steward of all family documentation. Let us give you a brief synopsis to properly whet your appetite for this salacious read: The saga begins with a fire. In 1915, founder Tom Lyle Williams watched as his sister Mabel, after singing her lashes while cooking, applied a mixture of petroleum jelly, burnt cork, and coal dust to her damaged fringe in an effort to simulate fuller, more luxurious lashes. Tom immediately saw dollar signs in his sister’s makeshift mascara, and so began the now billion-dollar business that is Maybelline (named after the woman, Mabel, who inspired its creation). The dishy book’s most publicized revelation is that Tom, despite being a married father, carried out a 35-year relationship with a male partner, ad exec Emery Shaver. We were far more fascinated by the vignette about Evelyn, though, Tom’s over-the-top glamorous sister-in-law. The night after opening her Maybelline Dinner Theatre in Arkansas with a star-studded gala in 1975 (Bill Clinton was in attendance), Evelyn perished in a suspicious house fire, and the crime was never solved. Scandalous! It’s definitely a good beach book, if you’re headed for warmer climes this winter—and if anything, it will forever change the way you look at that pink and green tube of the brand’s best-selling Great Lash Mascara.